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When to Take the “Keep” Out of Keepsake

For many people, keepsakes are definitely a delicate subject – and one I see almost every day.  It typically happens like this:  a beloved family member moves into a retirement facility so we end up with stuff from their home; then they pass and we end up with more stuff fro their home.  We want to honor those family members and feel that keeping their stuff is the best way to do so.

In my opinion, the best way to honor a loved one is to implement something into your life that was important to them.  I personally lost my grandmother last fall and my family honors her by attending church, sitting down to family meals at her table, and drinking our lemonade out of her beloved crystal.  While she would probably balk at us using her fine crystal as everyday glasses, we believe the people in our home are important enough for the “good stuff.” What are some ways you can honor your loved ones without becoming a storage facility for their lifetime of things?

If you are faced with similar situations in your own life, here are some guidelines for what to keep.

1.  Only keep items you love and will display and/or use. Just because you loved a person does not mean you have to love their stuff.

  If you insist on not displaying or using the items, limit items to a number that can fit inside a designated space.  We have my grandmother’s crystal glasses and none others.  In order to use her glasses, I had to give up those I bought at Target.

  Remember that items do not have magical properties, memories do — getting rid of something your loved one owned isn’t getting rid of that person.


Identify a specific number of items that best represent your fondest feelings of your loved one, and treat those items with the respect and love those memories deserve. By giving the items a place in your home, you will feel more connected to that loved one, and be able to share it with those who live in or visit your home.

It is also important to remember that you cannot force your spouse to get rid of his mother’s things. You can show him compassion by incorporating some of her things into your life right now, and hopefully pass on the things you are unable to use. With a little time and suggestions from you, both of you should be able to come to the right solution for your family.

A box in the garage full of items you rarely, if ever, look at is not a fitting tribute to an important person from your life. Two or three items tastefully and beautifully displayed or used in your home, however, show that you care for, respect, and value the relationship.


Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer

Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts


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Categories:  Organizing Tips

About the Author

Jennifer Snyder

Jennifer Snyder

My name is Jennifer Snyder CPO, Chief Executive Organizer of Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts, a Waco-based company of Professional Organizers that is not only focused on organizing the clutter in your home or office but also clutter of the heart and mind. 

I am happy that you are taking an interest in the benefits of getting your home and life organized.  Living an organized life is for everyone!

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